Monday, 17 October 2011



For the sake of not being thrown off the internet, I am obviously not going to use That Word: I'm not (quite) that much of an idiot. However, for the sake of clarity, I shall do a spot of "melon farming": substituting an entirely innocent if nonsensical word for ever use of That Word so I don't actually type that sequence of letters but everyone knows the word to which I'm referring. It's the one you really really REALLY can't use these days. But it is used quite a lot by most of the white people in Russ Meyer's genuinely jaw-dropping slave plantation sexploitation movie from 1973. Hint: "nougat". (Not to mention the innumerable uses of "black bitch", "black bastard", "black arse" as well - you're duly warned.)

I'm sure someone with time on their hands and a disregard for all social niceties has probably created a compilation of uses of "Nougat!" in various movies and uploaded it to YouTube, and he/she could comfortably fill a couple of minutes from this film alone. Black Snake (aka Slaves) is a film which Russ Meyer apparently claimed was his statement against racial bigotry, but for most of the time plays like the wettest dream Jim Davidson has ever had. To investigate what happened to his brother, aristo David Warbeck disguises himself as the new bookkeeper at the family's Caribbean plantation where, despite the abolition of slavery, Lady Anouska Hempel maintains the profits by the use of slaves, mercilessly ruled over by drunken Irish rapist/racist bastard Percy Herbert. How long will it be before a revolt? Can Warbeck uncover his brother's fate?

The star of the show is undoubtedly the fantastic Anouska Hempel, striding around with a whip like Isla: She-Wolf Of The Ku Klux Klan by way of Godalming and shouting "nougat" a lot in a hilariously plummy voice. Warbeck is heroically square-jawed as well, Herbert is thoroughly despicable, but it's Hempel's film and she's great, whatever Russ Meyer might have thought of her figure. (Which is absolutely fine, by the way, although there are moments where Meyer has clearly inserted shots of someone bustier, and to hell with continuity.) There's also a black French homosexual, Bible-quoting, much sadistic cruelty and racist violence, and a surprisingly bleak conclusion - and then, perhaps realising that he hasn't included much in the way of wobbly hooter action thus far, Meyer has a pair of black and white couples running through the same locations in the present day while a voiceover burbles something about racial harmony.

It's rumoured that Ms Hempel - now Lady Weinberg, an internationally renowned hotelier - had bought the rights to this and Pete Walker's Tiffany Jones back in 1998 to prevent any more TV screenings or video releases, which makes the appearance of this DVD (which also includes the markedly inferior Wild Gals Of The Naked West) a little odd. Maybe she just watched it one night and thought "Wow, this is actually rather good!" and relented. Black Snake isn't a great movie, but it's one of the better Russ Meyer films I've seen: not as good as Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls but thoroughly disreputable, slightly shocking fun.


What did you just say?!?!?!

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